State News

Family: Marine killed in jet crash was 'hero'

Posted January 3, 2009 6:36 p.m. EST
Updated January 4, 2009 8:38 a.m. EST

— The family of a Marine pilot killed this week in a crash in North Carolina said they lost a man who led by example.

"If you’ve met Capt. Alberto N. Bencosme, you would know that he was a hero without even trying. He shined without effort. He was a straight arrow," his brother, Tobias, said.

Bencosme, 27, was piloting the AV-8B Harrier that crashed Monday in an unpopulated area near the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.

Tobias Bencosme spoke to reporters Saturday from his family's home in Miami. He said that his brother was his role model and he had followed in his footsteps by joining the Marines.

Bencosme was hoping to be part of a military fly over at the Outback Bowl, family members said.

Cherry Point officials said that the investigation into the cause of Monday's crash might take up to a year to complete. Shortly after takeoff, a cockpit caution light came on, indicating that aircraft canopy latches might be unsecured, and Bencosme was ordered back to base.

Bencosme was a member of the Marine Attack Training Squadron 203, based at Cherry Point. He had been promoted to captain on Dec. 1.

Born in the Dominican Republican, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in November 1997 and was commissioned as an officer seven years later. He earned two Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medals, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.